McElmo Canyon Research Institute, Cortez, CO

Enjoy a Class or Workshop at McElmo Canyon Research Institute!

Meet our instructors:

Diane McBride Diane McBride: Brings to Kelly Place two passions: Archaeology and Education. She has taught preschoolers through adults in a variety of settings. Since 2007, she has been an on-call educator for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center coordinating education programs for the Anasazi Heritage Center Museum and, since 2008, a contract coordinator for the Cultural Site Stewardship Program on Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
Diane is also the Executive Director of Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance, a non-profit partner organization for Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and the Anasazi Heritage Center. In her free time, you can find Diane hiking the canyons and mesas or traveling the world with her husband and best friend, Bob.

Dale Davidson Dale Davidson: After Graduate School at Northern Arizona University I had a career with Bureau of Land Management as an archaeologist in North Dakota, Montana and Utah. I conducted field work in archaeological survey, documentation, evaluation and excavation. I also provided input and supervised the development of NEPA required environmental documents, consulted with Native Americans and interest groups, and provided archaeological input to law enforcement investigations.
Since retirement in 2004 I have been active in historic preservation efforts. I:
  • Provided archaeological input for the development of Hawkins Preserve.
  • Coauthored a history of Cortez.
  • Have provided archaeological education outreach to school groups.
  • Am a member of the Cortez Historic Preservation Board.
  • Am on the Board of the Montezuma County Historical Society.
  • Am a founding member of Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance, and its Board Chair.
My wife and I have lived in Cortez since 1987. We have two daughters, one of whom lives here in Cortez with her family. The other daughter and family are in Norman Oklahoma.

Road Scholar and McElmo Canyon Research Institute,
Present the 2017 Programs

Click here to visit Road Scholar website to view or sign up for our programs.

Hiking To Ruins in the Southwest

April 2-8; May 7-13; Sept. 24-30; Oct 22-28; Dec. 3-9

Hike through sculpted red-rock canyons with spectacular mountain views. The canyons and mesas of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument are the sites for unique hikes led by experienced archaeologists. Explore a 40-acre archaeological preserve with prehistoric "cliff-dweller" ruins, petroglyphs, and hiking trails into canyon country. You will begin to recognize and identify unexcavated ruins and uncollected pottery sherds as you hike into areas seldom visited by others. Discover the natural beauty of a land which was once home to thousands of Ancestral Puebloan people. Enter thousand-year-old dwellings and an underground ceremonial chamber and learn what is known about the ancient civilizations and what is still a mystery.

Archaeology, Native American Art: Southwest Intergenerational Program

June 25-July1; July 9-15; July 23-29

Intergenerational programs offer the opportunity for grandparents to share with grandchildren ages 10-13 an activity-filled experience just for them. The Southwest comes alive during this week of exploring the cultures of prehistoric and modern Native Americans. Learn to excavate and recognize artifacts while working on a 1,000-year-old site, led by an archaeologist. Discover Native American arts as you create your own pottery, weave a small rug in the ways of the Navajo and imagine what life was like for the ancient Puebloans as you descend into a prehistoric ceremonial kiva. Meet modern day members of the Ute and Navajo tribe and enjoy their music, A special field trip to Mesa Verde National Park, accompanied by an archaeologist, takes you back in time to wonder at the skills of the ancient cliff-dwellers.

Ancient Treasures: Photography in the Four Corners

May 28-June 3 and Sept. 3-9

Discover the color and history of the southwest through the lens of your digital camera on a journey to capture the spectacular land formations and ancient ruins of the Four Corners region. Each date of this adventure features different expert photography teachers who teaches you how to snap stirring images of rock art, Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and dwellings, majestic mountains and sculpted red-rock canyons. Learn in the classroom how to make the most of your camera in sessions on composition, exposure, white balance, bracketing, ISO and more, and enjoy outings to test your new skills while your archaeologist guide interprets the breathtaking landscapes, prehistoric ruins and ancient cultures found throughout the region.

Enjoy photo field trips to the lava vents at Shiprock, the Lukachukai Mountains, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde National Park and the bizarre formations at Bisti Wilderness, visiting all four states of the Four Corners. Beginners through intermediate skill levels are welcome.

On May Dates: Introducing Lanny Wagner and Steven W. Martin of Ranger Images Photography, our new instructors.

About Lanny Wagner: Although I grew up in Florida, I have spent the majority of my adult life living in the American Southwest, in California and New Mexico. I never tire of exploring old and new stomping grounds and experiencing nature's showcase. I understand time dictates the need to drive to many of my favorite spots, but I prefer walking, as my grandmother taught me at a young age, "true treasures are found on foot". My love of photography was also gained from her husband, my grandfather, as he started shooting in the 1920's. They both taught me so much, patience, a love of nature, and most important, respect for all things, and this still influences my life and photography today. I have had more "best days ever" than I can count, some with my camera and others without. The trick for me when I am out in nature is remembering it is not about getting the best shot, but just about being there. I currently live in Mancos, Colorado near Durango with my beautiful wife Stacy and our pet rabbits, Jake and Bella.

Lanny's Current Exhibitions: My photos are currently on display in several locations around the Four Corners area of the United States including Moab, Durango (Ultimate Mountain Living) Dolores and Cortez, Colorado. I also spend time shooting in the Panhandle of Florida and have my beach photos displayed in several locations there including Kiss Bakery (Destin) and Pelican Isle Condos. I recently had a photo selected and published in Landscape Photography Magazine which is based in the UK. Along with my partner Steven W Martin, we recently completed a night photography session at the request of the National Park Service at Hovenweep National Monument. The photographs will be used to educate visitors on the night sky in this area. Recently (2016) I was selected to complete a photo inventory for the Bureau of Land Management (Tres Rios Field Office SW Colorado) of all of the Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) located on public land in the area. The inventory lasted over two months and required extensive hiking/overnight camping into remote areas to capture the essence of each WSA. In November 2016, I spent over a week in the country of Iceland capturing landscapes and traveling throughout the country. I have several of my photos currently displayed in Iceland. Two of my photos were selected and received awards by the Center of Southwest Studies located in Durango, CO at Fort Lewis College. They are currently there on display through December 2016 as part of a program celebrating the National Park Services 100 year anniversary. To learn more visit: Lanny Wagner's gallery.

About Steven Martin: Conservation Photography with Purpose Steven spent 29 years protecting public lands, natural, cultural and historic resources throughout the Western United States. Today, Steven utilizes the medium of digital photography to capture the essence of the West's natural wonders, historic and cultural resources in the hope these images inspire an appreciation for the lands and resources that remain in the public trust for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone. Steven is constantly in search of ways to promote conservation and continued public stewardship of these irreplaceable resources through his photography. "Description of the inspiration or the meaning of a work of photography... lies in the work itself. The endless discussions of creativity appear to me to be pointless intellectual carousels; their purpose seems more the presenting of burnt offerings and worshiping of modish identifications than the achieving of mutual enlightenment." Ansel Adams, ca. 1983. Steven's honors and experience are too long to list here. To learn more visit: Steven W. Martin's gallery.

On Sept. Dates: Barbara Grist

About Barbara Grist: An artist of many talents, Barbara Grist is a retired art educator who has lived in Cortez for over 30 years. In addition to running her own photography studio for the past 13 years, Barbara creates fused glass jewelry, masks and silver jewelry. Her work has been exhibited at numerous locations, including the Open Shutter Contemporary Photography Gallery in Durango and Cortez Cultural Center, and has won several awards. Barbara‚Äôs artwork has appeared on the cover of Arts Perspective magazine, and can be found in the permanent collection in Southwest Memorial Hospital and Axis Health, as well as in various private collections around the world. In 2011, she was an Artist in Residence at the Aspen Guard Station. To learn more visit: Barbara Grist's gallery.

Uncover Secrets of the Anasazi: An Archaeological Dig in Colorado

March 19-25

People have lived in the Colorado Plateau for over 12,000 years. The Ancestral Pueblo people, or Anasazi, lived farmed and thrived in the area from A.D. 500-1300 before the great migration led them to today's pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico. Venture to these hallowed grounds to learn from expert archaeologists and help uncover millennia-old Native American artifacts, such as tool and pottery fragments and other remnants of their culture. Join an active dig site to practice with specialized tools and learn the methods of a professional archaeologist as you discover this culture's architecture, art, technology and unique way of life.

Service: Archaeological Preservation in the Four Corners.

April 16-22

In this program, we will delve into understanding how simple pieces of pottery and flakes from making stone tools can write a story about the past. We will use this information to locate and record archaeological sites on private land, areas where little is known about the archaeology but have big stories to tell.

We will conduct what is known as a "pedestrian survey" in which we will walk (moderate pace) the beautiful landscape in an organized manner to locate artifact concentrations and architectural features. You are guaranteed to see some incredible things that the public does not see; It's a good walk gone better! Our information is shared with the archaeological community to assist other archaeologists in creating "big data" to understand population on the Greater Southwest landscape over thousands of years.

Fresh air, good walks, and archaeology! What could be better? Please consider joining us in April, 2017!

Click here to visit Road Scholar website to view or sign up for our programs.